Should you hire a remote sales team? My answer is no

Building an effective sales team is like creating a championship-winning team. No NBA champion, no Premier League Champion will work out in their home basements, doing push-ups & running on a $300 treadmill. They go to high-performance centers, and so should your sales team.

sales team in sales organization
INSIGHTS IN THIS GUIDE

So, should you hire remote sales teams? No. You should not have a remote sales team. If you want a champion sales team to maximize output, your remote sales team will not work. To manage a remote sales team is to manage a different beast.

At Rose Garden, we are not pro-remote sales teams, but we are not against teams working remotely either.

Let us clue you in.

Office teams consistently outperform remote teams across all departments, divisions, and skill levels. Our experience working with industry-leading clients informs this knowledge.

Are we saying virtual sales teams are the worst decision sales leaders can make? No.

However, you must look at your end goal. If your end goal is to maximize capability and performance, a remote sales team will not help you achieve that goal.

This is true across all departments.

Some sales leaders want a virtual sales team and get themselves a remote salesforce. But understand that there are trade-offs and that many remote sales teams’ perceived advantages are unfavorable when building elite teams.

Let’s get into it.

What is a remote sales team?

sales team

Many organizations have chosen to continue their remote-first or hybrid work environment approach since the pandemic to attract talent from further afield. We agree that working and selling remotely from anywhere in the world is now possible and sounds attractive to many people.

A remote sales team, also known as a virtual sales team, work and sell remotely. The sales professionals execute the organization’s sales strategies without working in an office building and/or interfacing directly with clients or customers. The team relies on online communication skills and digital project management tools.

Remote sales teams differ from hybrid sales teams – a model where the employee can choose to work remotely or on-site at a central office space. An entirely virtual sales team does not have that option. While the sales reps may benefit from some on-site advantages, similar drawbacks still exist.

I also acknowledge that globalization, technology progression, digital work, and the SaaS revolution have changed the game for many global companies preceding the pandemic’s catalyst to remote work. Global teams work together from the comfort of their own home country.

Any organization operating at that level is in another league and has established systems to hold the remote workforce accountable at every level of its organization. To reiterate, another league!

But, let’s compare the advantages and drawbacks of working in an on-site and remote environment.

Office teams consistently outperform remote teams across all departments, divisions, and skill levels

Benefits of on-site teams

The truth is that most job roles, industries, and business activities benefit from in-person interaction.

Office teams consistently outperform remote teams across all departments, divisions, and skill levels. Our experience working with industry-leading clients informs this knowledge.

So, why do I believe your team benefits from working together in person? Here is my list of reasons:

sales team and sales leader

Better for team performance

There is a stark correlation between our clients’ remote work environments and on-site teams. The on-site sales teams consistently outperform the remote sales teams, and that is across departments – so your sales and marketing professionals benefit from on-site environments, respectively.

And we don’t just see this at a company level.

We have audited clients’ team members with hybrid teams, and you see the exact correlation. Those who came into the office performed the highest, and remote employees performed the poorest. That was true for even the most experienced sales professionals.

Rose Garden Sales Accelerator Process
We evaluate your compensation structure, tech stack, sales playbooks, sales strategy, sales process, hiring and onboarding to ignite revenue growth.

Better for the onboarding process

The average probation period for new sales reps is 3 months, and the sales hires may have to hit their sales quota once.

New salespeople take an average of 3.2 months to ramp up to complete productivity.

We find that for remote work, this process increases up to 6 months.

The average probation period for virtual sales reps is extended to 5 months, as remote sales reps could not ramp up to total productivity and hit sales quotas sooner.

Optimizing your onboarding process is essential to scaling your business, and working remotely hinders an organization’s ability to get it right.

New salespeople take an average of 3.2 months to ramp up to complete productivity. We find that for remote work, this process increases up to 6 months.

Better for company culture & accountability

You can see the company culture you cultivate in an on-site sales team. Your sales employees see what the company is driving towards with constant reminders of the organization’s goals and clear expectations.

There’s also more competitive energy on the sales floor, which is essential. Your sales employees are fully immersed in sales calls, sales processes, and leaderboards.

Everyone is moving together as a unit, all thinking in the right direction.

There’s almost no accountability or transparency in a remote team. Your sales manager might do their 15-minute stand-up or remote sales meetings, and your sales reps disappear.

Another disturbing trend shows more remote workers are getting away with working two full-time jobs meaning they collect two full-time salaries while producing less. That concerns me, and it should concern you.

At the end of the day, remote salespeople are not geared into the organization as your on-site team.

sales hiring and sales team

Better for training

Of course, training can be done from home – but to effectively manage your training, it should be conducted in person.

It is your job as the sales leader to cultivate, train and monitor your sales reps, sales managers, and staff in the sales process, systems, sales skills, and tools. Why do you want to make that more challenging for yourself in a remote setting?

Sales professionals learn best from watching and chasing top performers.

If a top performer works from home, no team member can see what they’re doing. No one can emulate their selling process, skills, and activities.

This is true for all sales landscapes, including SaaS.

Benefits of remote work environment

Are we saying virtual sales teams are the worst decision sales leadership makes? No.

But understand that all remote selling comes with trade-offs, including those “advantages” that are actually unfavorable.

Create a trusting culture

Similarly, allowing employees more flexibility without constant monitoring increases the perception of trust in your employees.

Now, here is where I hold a different belief because I believe you should never run a sales team on trust.

Some thought leaders believe it is the fault of hiring managers and leadership not doing their due diligence in the hiring process or interview process if you hire people that don’t contribute positively to the remote sales team.

I agree, but even your top performers have a propensity to cut corners. It’s human nature.

What’s more, it’s challenging to manage a remote sales team remotely, and you can’t catch these mistakes until they become large enough to come to your attention or, worse, your clients.

The only way to ensure your team members stick to sales plans is to provide tight systems, processes, and infrastructure. If you don’t have the established infrastructure and systems, virtual selling is not an option you should consider.

sales team

Better for work-life balance

One of the key benefits of working remotely is work-life balance and reduced commute times.

Generally, offices tend to be in larger places, like towns or cities. From an employee’s perspective, a remote salesperson has increased flexibility in their day, and we have to face the reality that a sales candidate does consider work-life balance more. 

And that’s not to mention the cost of the daily commute. I appreciate the rising cost of living and how people want to divert money away from unnecessary expenses. 

But here’s another way to look at it: 

The commute no longer becomes an issue if you have an incredible compensation package and sales process that incentivizes them to sell more deals from the office.

To attract quality talent and offer flexibility, some companies provide X number of days a month or quarter where people can work from home. Still, the remaining days are spent in the office. I am seeing this populate in the hiring process more regularly since the pandemic. 

Rose Garden Sales Accelerator Process
We evaluate your compensation structure, tech stack, sales playbooks, sales strategy, sales process, hiring and onboarding to ignite revenue growth.

Better for a wider talent pool

Yes. Managing a remote team allows you to cast a “wider net” during recruitment.

But that is where I leave you.

The problem when you hire salespeople remotely is they are often unqualified.

So, what does that mean?

You have to invest in teaching them the basics. And, I mean the basics – tech stack, communications, office software, formal writing, video conferencing requirements.

Add on top of your regular onboarding.

New salespeople take an average of 3.2 months to ramp to complete productivity, but remote workers take even longer, meaning you are not only losing money.

On the flip side, you’re from a small town, need good talent, and want to recruit from San Francisco.

Reality check: good luck paying that person.

This is the problem when people say remote work allows you to recruit top talent outside of your geography and opens smaller markets to more significant markets.

SDRs, on average, get an $85,000 base salary in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. When you’ve got an enterprise representative in Iowa, not even making an $85,000 base salary, the unit economics doesn’t work.

While it may appear to be an advantage, it’s false.

sales leader or sales team speaking to prospect

Saves money

Yes. Rent and commercial property are expensive.

Yes. You’ll save on renting and maintaining an office space, but be aware of other costs you will incur.

Remote workers get a cheap workforce, but they are not necessarily qualified people. And quality training is not cheap.

Remember: new salespeople take an average of 3.2 months to ramp to complete productivity, but remote workers take even longer.

Additionally, you must invest in digital infrastructure, including a full tech stack and digital tools. Video calls are now your reality.

You get remote work; you get remote competition.

New salespeople take an average of 3.2 months to ramp up to complete productivity. We find that for remote work, this process increases up to 6 months.

When remote sales team Management works

I want to remind you we aren’t anti-remote selling. I have seen it work, but I want to emphasize that these companies are already built machines designed especially for remote selling.

The few companies utilizing remote work successfully have the infrastructure and systems built to hold their people accountable and understand the core competency of these remote workers.

These companies have:

  • established recruitment infrastructure to identify and hire experienced sales professionals;
  • established onboarding infrastructure and process to hire top talent;
  • established systems to hold the remote workforce accountable
  • established sales process catering to the remote selling and its challenges
  • established the right tools for every sales rep

Unless you have all the above established within your organization and geared towards remote selling and nothing else, you should never attempt it.

Now, that is not to say that small businesses may not benefit from aspects of a remote workforce. But if you have a business that you want to grow t be worth something one day – you need to have an on-site team.

Put it this way. If you think of going remote, you’re riding the last wave.

Remote sales teams: Last word

You’re mistaken if you think going remote will give your organization a leg up. You’re riding the last wave.

Do you know how to find creative solutions to these issues preventing progress in your company?

Can your sales team be innovative?

No. Then, your business needs help.

Let me be clear, if you were going to find the solution to your sales problems, you would have seen and solved them by now.

It’s likely you need support and help to solve them.

Rose Garden is solutions-focused, so if you want me and my team to ignite your revenue growth, we will do so with our Sales Accelerator Process and Team Assessment.

About the author:

Ali Mirza is the Founder & CEO of Rose Garden, a national sales consulting organization, and featured in Forbes, Inc, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Business Rockstars, and The Wall Street Journal.

Ali is a highly sought-after public speaker presenting at multiple national conferences on innovative ways to accomplish transformational growth on your sales team.

Rose Garden provides unparalleled support and guidance to growth-minded founders via sales strategy differentiation, world-class sales culture creation, and exclusive playbooks, processes, and scripts to position them for limitless growth.

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